Potato Gratin is a lovely, warm inviting dish hailing from France. It’s said that the first mention of this lovely French dish was in the 1700’s. It was first documented in the menu planning for the French Lieutenant’s. Known throughout France was also that the woman prepared before leaving for church on Sunday. They let it slow cook over heat until they arrived home after services. The potatoes were cooked, the crust was finished. The family was ready to sit down to a warm meal directly after church. Incidentally, the word gratin is a method used in French cooking. It gives a dish (potato’s for example) a nice brown crust on the top. It’s achieved by applying high heat to the top of the oven. This way giving the finished product a nice, browned crunchy top.
The addition of bread crumbs, or cheese helps ensure this process even further. I find it hard to believe that it’s taken me so long to achieve satisfaction with this dish, but sadly, it has. I’ve never been able to find the perfect balance of creaminess and crunch. After tasting a wonderful example while dining at a friends house I had to ask. What did you do exactly (your secret) to achieve such perfection? Cream was the reply. No roux, no butter and milk mixture, just a few pats of butter, and cream. Seasoned to your desire with salt, pepper, maybe a bit of nutmeg. Now it’s set to go in the oven to bake.
Follow the easy steps of washing, peeling, and slicing, butter the baking dish, then take a finger full of sliced potatoes put them in the baking dish and fan them out, then follow with another cluster and so on thus finalizing with pouring heavy cream over the top and it is ready to bake. For more flavor and flair, you can also add garlic to your cream mixture, and top the assembled dish with some finely shredded Gruyere or Parmesan. I was thrilled with my outcome. The flavor was very soft, the crust was golden with crunch and we all fell in love with this simple dish once again! Let’s just say, no left-over’s, and lots of praise!
- 5 to 6 whole potatoes figure 1-2 per person
- 2 dl heavy cream about 1 cup worth
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- Begin by pre-heating your oven to 375. Find a tart dish, or seemingly shallow baking dish and just put enough butter on the bottom to prevent sticking
- wash and peel the potatoes
- it’s best to work with a tool for fine slicing, this allows your cuts to all be the same size which is great for cooking
- slice your potatoes and line them in a reasonably neat and circular pattern
- add your salt and pepper and pour the heavy cream over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until nice and golden
- slice, serve and enjoy